Dry sowing may be an option for southern farmers experiencing delayed autumn breaks. One of the greatest benefits to dry sowing is that it maximises the length of the growing season, allowing seedlings to become established early and providing valuable fast feed in the winter months.
“Sowing into dry soils before the break requires forward planning to ensure the best results, and some simple tips can improve success,” Heritage Seeds territory manager, Emma McDonald recommended.
“This method of sowing is most likely to be effective in paddocks with low residual pasture growth and limited weed burden. Limiting weed competition is important to emerging seedlings.”
According to Ms McDonald, sowing before the break limits herbicide options for the control of early germinating weeds, therefore it is important to choose species with quick early-growth to outcompete any weeds.
Some good fast establishing species to consider include annual rye-grasses and forage cereals.
Sowing into dry soils means that plants experience warmer soil conditions and good early vigour once adequate moisture is achieved. However, it is important to ensure that your seed is sown deep enough to protect it from drying out. For some species such as oats, aim to sow 10–15 mm (approximately half an inch) deeper than the normal sowing rate to ensure adequate seed coverage. Dry sowing can be undertaken with your usual seeding machinery.
There are several known pests such as African black beetle and red legged earth mites that can impact the success of dry sowing. It is recommended paddocks are regularly monitored to identify any possible pest threats and undertake appropriate pest management strategies prior to planting.
“Good planning is the key to achieving fast winter feed,” Ms McDonald said.
“But if you’re not sure what your best options are, get advice — that’s what we’re here for. We want nothing more than to help farmers to grow with confidence and get the most out of their paddocks.”